We Are All Black Now

Al Jolson, Swanee River (1939)

Al Jolson, Swanee River (1939)

Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick posted an interesting piece about a seemingly well-attended protest that occurred Feb. 8th in Raleigh, NC. Tens of thousands of people had recently assembled–in Lithwick’s words, “undetected by cable news”–to register dismay and dissatisfaction over the throwback vision manifested by officials elected to represent them in state government.

Apparently, North Carolina legislators have been passing laws to limit reproductive rights, gerrymander voting districts, harm workers and the environment, and suppress the vote, which led Lithwick to opine, “we are all North Carolina now.”

It led one clever protester to create a “Welcome to North Carolina” sign with the tag line, “Set Clocks Back 50 Years.”

The pretext of Lithwick’s piece lay in two questions the writer has been hearing of late: “ ‘Why are you so interested in what happens in North Carolina?’ (Posed mainly by people not from North Carolina.) And: ‘Why doesn’t anyone care what’s happening here in North Carolina?’ (Posed largely by folks rallying in North Carolina.)” It was another in a long line of posts by countless bloggers expressing amazement that pretty significant things fail to surface in mainstream media.

I thought immediately of Gil Scott-Heron’s iconic song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and dutifully brought it up on YouTube. I listened again for the many hundredth (if not thousandth) time–intently, perhaps, for one of the first–and I realized that, while Scott-Heron was rapping more specifically about a revolution Black America has been struggling to manifest for more than 150 years, his words–and the truth behind them–apply equally to every single person, in America and across the globe, who is oppressed and limited, and demeaned by the status quo today.

As it happened, today was also a National Security Administration Awareness Day. I dutifully phoned CA Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to register my support for the USA Freedom Act against pending legislation to which she’d already signed her name, the FISA Improvements Act. Her phone person was polite. She had a nice voice. My call was one of hundreds like it her office had received already.

Meanwhile, advances in the present administration’s remote assassination initiative proceed apace. The President insisted his administration will launch a drone strike against a suspect only “to stop a planned attack, when it was not possible to capture a suspect, and when there was ‘near certainty’ that civilians would not be injured or killed.” To recent date, the record shows the Obama Admin – 4, US Citizen Drone Targets – 0 (Innocent Civilians – uncounted, but pretty fucked) since 2009.

So, I don’t know. Honestly. What do we do? Is Russell Brand a strange Messiah on the true path leading from the Magna Carta to the French and American Revolutions, to the post-war enlightenment that flowered in the 1960s, to Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square?

I think Jean-Philippe Immarigeon may have gotten it right in the February 2014 Harper’s: “How is it acceptable that voters make themselves heard only every two years, an eternity in the Internet era? How is it acceptable in this millennium of instantaneity, to have a two month interregnum between the November elections and the January oath of office?” Imamarigeon’s solution is to start over. Dissolve Congress and call a Constitutional Convention.

Notably, during the French transition from 18th century Revolution to 19th century democracy, the Attorney General remarked in 1817, “The important thing … is not that all the bad ministers be judged and punished but rather that they cease to be ministers at all.”


  1. lonbud - February 12, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    For those on Facebook, the link to this gentleman’s page offers most interesting reading in the comments to his posts. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Kelsey/109796304652

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